Folio (525 x 350 mm.), full contemporary Dutch yap vellum with ornate gilt panelled decoration, manuscript title to spine, recased with later endpapers, with green silk fore-edge ties. With typographic title page bearing ornate vignette, magnificent engraved architectural title page in early wash colour HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, title printed on an overslip and pasted down, 58 copperplate engraved maps (57 double-page), 3 half-page illustrations, all in excellent early outline colour. The maps comprise 4 general and 54 county and island maps of England and Wales. With German text mounted on guards throughout. Gilt edged. The title repaired and remargined, light spotting throughout, some light marginal water staining, otherwise a very good example.
A fine example of the fourth volume of Joan Blaeu’s ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, covering England and Wales with fine colouring, the title beautifully illuminated in gold. Blaeu’s first topographical atlas appeared in 1630 in one volume and was gradually expanded. By 1640 it was in three volumes and contained just 4 British Isles maps. His chief rival, the Hondius-Jansson atlas contained 18 maps. Both joined a race to make their fourth volumes a complete atlas of the British Isles. Blaeu was first, publishing his magnificent work in 1645, one year before that of Jansson’s. The work of Blaeu set a standard of design, beauty and quality that arguably has never been surpassed. This is an early example dated 1648 with German text and a Royal provenance. Provenance: Johann, King of Saxony (1801-73), his crowned monogram in margin of the title; Saxon State and University Library, Dresden (deaccession stamp). Koeman (1967-70) Bl 47D pp. 183-80, 215-8; Skelton (1970) 44; Van der Krogt (1997-2010) 2.3331K, variant title a.